Levitating Slinky

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Slinky play is such pure childhood fun. We have a new slinky from the dollar store, and mostly Travis just had a free-for-all with it today. But we threw in a tiny bit of science, too.

First Travis simply wanted to check out all the ways this toy can wobble, wiggle, and stretch. He loved turning it into a stretched-out U shape and calling it a smile.

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And of course we gave it the classic try down the stairs.

But what’s really going on in a slinky? To investigate, we needed a smartphone with a slo-mo video camera. Stand in a clear space and hold the slinky still, then drop it.

Ideally, what you’ll capture is that the bottom coil doesn’t move until the upper ones catch up to it. That’s because the tension of the coils is holding them together, even as gravity is pushing the slinky down. This makes the slinky appear to levitate just for a moment before it falls to the ground.

Our slo-mo camera wasn’t great at capturing this. I’d love to hear your results in the comments if you get a great shot!

Jars, Marbles, and Pom Poms

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As long as your toddler is old enough not to put marbles in his or her mouth, they make a great addition to sensory play. Although this particular game lends itself well to solo play, do keep an eye on things because of those marbles.

I used four leftover jars of baby food (cleaned and dried), and set them on a baking sheet. (Note: this is to catch the items as the spill out or roll around). I filled one jar with marbles and two with pom poms (sorted by color), and then left the fourth jar empty.

Jars Pom Pom Marble (1)

Beyond the set-up, I truly had no agenda for Veronika with this game; I just wanted to see how she would play with the materials! First she said, “I want to dump!” The filled jars were just begging to be upended. The marbles made a big clatter as they rolled across the baking sheet.

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Then I showed her that the pom poms were (shhhh) quiet as they rolled out.

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She then was busy transferring items back and forth for a while.

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I had included the jar lids, so she also enjoyed putting those on and taking them off again.

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The marbles were of much greater interest to her than the pom poms. She loved the plink they made as they want back into the jars, and I think she also just loved the smooth feel of them. She carried a few around the apartment all day!

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Then it was back to lots more filling the jars, dumping them out, watching things roll, and having fun!

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Letter Learning with the ABC Mat

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With our ABC mat currently set up on the floor, I wanted to do a little letter learning and phonics review today. This game can be tailored to just about any age; young toddlers can simply learn their letters, but it’s a phonics review and more like charades for older kids!

I pulled out our bag of wooden alphabet blocks, which are fun because they feature not just letters but also pictures of objects.

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The task for Travis, as the big kid, was to pick a picture and act it out. He got silly with this, including curling up like an apple!

Letter Learn ABC Mat (1)

Others were more obvious, whether buzzing like a bee or making animal noises.

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Then he had to put the block on the letter that matched the word’s beginning sound.

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Little siblings will want to get in on the charades, too!

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Then, to tailor it to Veronika’s age, I showed her how to match up letter to letter, rather than picture to letter.

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Check out our other recent alphabet mat fun here!